Choose your focus later.

The photography world is changing around you as I write this post! At least it feels that way as new cameras and features are introduced in short order. I’ve never been on the front edge of technology before and it’s fun trying to figure uses for features as they come out. A lot of the new capabilities is driven by possibilities not available before 4K mirrorless cameras came on the scene.

This is a very interesting new feature called Post Focus.

This is for stable non-moving subjects where you might not be sure of the focus point you want and would like to have options to choose later for a totally different look and feel to a subject of a scene.

Here’s how it works. The camera makes a quick video of a scene while moving the focus point throughout the frame. Because the camera is automatically set for Photo Mode each still frame can be extracted from the video as an eight MP file. At the end of processing after a few seconds you can see the individual frames on the back of the camera and choose any that you would like to save out as individual jpeg photos.

Want to be able to choose later? Not a problem. Download the video file and take it in an editing program like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or Lightroom. There you can step through each frame and choose at your leisure on a large screen and save out your file.

I decided to see if I could use the system to help with the capture of Macro images and the process of focus stacking to get deep detail in an image.

And guess what ?? It works!

I Imported the MP4 file into Adobe Premiere and used the right arrow to move through each individual frame. Selected the ones I wanted to work with and pushed the save as an image (camera icon) and saved the images out as a TIFF. Then it’s off to Adobe Bridge.

adobe bridge window

Screen capture of Bridge selections with all 28 files selected with the still captures pulled from the video.

With files selected the next move is Tools > Photoshop > Load Images into Layers

layers palette

Layers Palette with all layers selected in preparation for Photoshop magic.

Once all layers are selected they need to be put in registration because a change in focus changes the size of the image. Menu Edit > Auto-Align Layers.

auto blend dialog box

Once layers are aligned Menu Edit > Auto-Blend Layers with the Stack Images and Seemless Tones and Colors checked. Depending on the number and size of your files the the RAM horsepower of your computer this could take a little while but it’s doing all the work you see below masking in all the sharp portions of the images.

layers palette with masks

Palette window with proper selections for picking and masking in all the sharp bits it can find in the images. Making all of these masks would be super time intensive. Sometimes the individual masks may need a little tweaking if you didn’t get enough detail or colors and tones are very close.

focus stacked grasshopper

Grasshopper with detail and depth of field exactly where I want it.

The image was captured with the Lumix GX8 and the 45mm f2.8 Macro lens set at f9 in Post Focus Mode. “Why f9 and not f22 and be done with it Bob?” When photographing close-up Macro subjects the DOF is very shallow even at f22. In addition as the aperture gets smaller diffraction is introduced starting to blur details. (learn more about diffraction and check out your camera lens combo to find the sweet spot here)

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – No grasshoppers were harmed in the making of this tutorial. The grasshopper was already mummified when I found it on my porch.